More good news for Devils: Schneider is back

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The New Jersey Devils have a long way to go before they prove that they’re as good as their 7-2-0 record indicates, but they’re getting a key piece to the puzzle back tonight.

After being sidelined since being hurt during an Oct. 19 win, starting goalie Cory Schneider has been activated from IR. It’s unclear if Schneider will play against the Arizona Coyotes or if he’ll merely back up Keith Kinkaid, but he looks to dress for the Devils after Scott Wedgewood was traded to … the Coyotes.

It might seem weird to say that the timing of Schneider’s injury was “lucky,” but relatively speaking, that may be true. The Devils have only played two games since Schneider went on IR, winning one and losing the other.

On paper, the Devils could have a good thing going, even if they’re scorching-hot offense dips to merely “above-average.” The plan so far seems to be to ape the Pittsburgh Penguins: outscoring problems and hoping that your goalie can make up for at least some of your defensive lapses.

Challenges and questions ahead

Schneider, 31, has a bit to prove in that regard.

Many believe that Schneider should bounce back to something resembling his elite earlier form (.921 career save percentage) rather than suffering like he did last season (20-27-11, .908 save percentage). Through six games, Schneider’s save percentage is at .907, but he’s also 4-1-0.

Chances are, it will take time for both the Devils and Schneider, as the next month could be rocky. After tonight’s home game, a November run includes a three-game road trip to start and seven of 10 contests away from Newark through Nov. 20.

Such stretches can often put surprise stories to the test.

On the other hand, Schneider could very well be a steadying force if the Devils struggle in various areas. It’s been a delight to behold this rare sight – a Devils team that’s an absolute blast to watch – but one way or another, their $6M goalie is likely to become a huge part of this equation (whether it’s a winning formula or not).

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.